Comey’s core act of perjury during the Comey Hearings may well be intertwined with his inaccurate, incomplete testimony about his leaks that, in turn, hid false testimony about why he leaked and lied about President Trump’s demand for his loyalty.
President Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz pointed out this potential for Comey’s foundational act of perjury regarding the loyalty memo:
“Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory.”
Yes, there are two leaks and Comey only testified about one of the leaks. On May 11, two days after Comey was fired, the first leak occurred. The New York Times reported that two Comey “associates” leaked information about a one-on-one dinner seven days after the inauguration. Then on May 15 Comey decides to leak the information in the memo in a second way, through Daniel Richman. This leaked memo appears in The Times on May 16.
This is the incomplete element of Comey’s testimony that may hide his perjury. Susan Collins did not follow up her questioning properly. She could have and should have also asked, “Did you speak with anyone besides the Justice Department about your discussions with the president?”
The horse sense of the issue is that if Comey leaked the same lies before the tweet, his claim that he only began to lie only after Trump’s tweet is a false testimony. The false testimony, then, forms the basis for Comey’s perjury about why he leaked his memos.
There was also some confusion in Comey’s testimony before Senator Susan Collins. Susan Collins of Oregon had asked about a memo, singular, but then she asks a question about all the memos. Comey remains focused only on the loyalty memo about the Trump dinner on January 27.
Susan Collins – Maine: And finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice? (From the context: A.G. Sessions and Deputy A.G. Rosenstein.)
James Comey: Yes. I asked President tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there is not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation, might be a tape, my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square and so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend of mine to do that.
Susan Collins – Maine: Was that Mr. Wittous (Benjamin Wittes, a reporter for the New York Times)?
James Comey: No.
Susan Collins – Maine: Who was that?
James Comey: A good friend of mine, professor at Columbia Law School.
Despite the confusion, how Comey claimed to have leaked still involves critical omissions. He claimed to have leaked the loyalty memo only by way of a single friend (Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman), but there are two leaks of the conversation included in this memo. Even though the leak of the information in this memo was accomplished in two different ways, both leaks are material to a full answer to Senator Collins’ question. Is Comey’s partial answer a simple oversight, or is he dodging the heart of her question? The answer hinges on a complete testimony by Comey concerning all of his leaks.
Both leaks involved people outside of the Justice Department, so both elements of the leak are germane to the answer Senator Collins sought: was there anyone who knew about the contents of this memo who was not authorized to know? If these conversations with the President were so serious that they constituted a law enforcement matter, how did this information get to the New York Times before it reached the Justice Department? Certainly, despite her shock at Comey’s admission, Senator Collins should have followed up her questions.
Nevertheless, it makes little difference as to whether Comey discussed the contents of his memo or emailed a copy of his memo; in both instances the contents of conversations Comey claims were critical law enforcement matters were leaked. Both go to his motivation for leaking.
Is Comey’s incomplete testimony is perjury? Did he purposely omitted a key portion of the answer to Collins’ question to obscure his motives for leaking? His motives for leaking on the 15th make little sense in light of his earlier leaks. Did Comey purposely misrepresent, by conscious omission, how he leaked the loyalty memo, when he first leaked it, and why he leaked it?
Comey claimed that Trump’s response to his first leak on May 11th, this May 12th tweet, motivated him to leak the loyalty memo:
“James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press,”
Because of Comey’s inaccuracies and omissions, other narratives are much equally plausible.
Perhaps, terrified that he was trapped by Trump’s “tape,” Comey raced to his lawyer friend in Columbia, a friend to whom he’d embellished off the record criticisms of the President before. Any lawyer would suggest that a “contemporaneous memo” would establish that even if the “tape” was different than Comey’s recollection, Comey hadn’t lied, he’d only misunderstood what Trump was saying.
Perhaps there never was a contemporaneous memo about any of President Trump’s conversations until after May 15. This would explain why Comey can’t produce originals of those memos as of this date.
It is also possible that Comey’s descriptions of what constitutes a “memo” is a bit subjective. Are the Comey memos simply notes for his ten million dollar book? Perhaps financial gain, not malignant bitterness is Comey’s motive for leaking these memos and for insisting on a public testimony before the Senate. No one can know without having this disgraced FBI official back under oath before a congressional committee.
Comey’s may have committed a core act of perjury that then poisoned his entire testimony. His lies about his motivation fed his pathetic excuses as to why he didn’t report his “disturbing and confusing” conversations with the president and why he has no memos to show for his conversations with Loretta Lynch. Whether Comey ever, in his entire career, made contemporaneous memos on “confusing and disturbing” conversations is now an open question.